Friday, April 01, 2011

Yocum continues marching, New Jersey National Guard moves to cut aid to service members and veterans


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. He began the walk last April with the plan of 7,000 miles. Jeff Daley (WDAM) reports "Troy Yocum arrived at Camp Shelby" yesterday and he has so far raised issues and awareness as well as $170,000. He tells Daley, "I figured that I needed to do something to help so I started drawing maps and basically came up with the idea to walk from town to town, city to city across America to spread awareness about these issues and raise as much funds as possible and help as many families as possible." Jeremy Pittari (Picayune Item) reports on Troy's visit Tuesday to Picayune:

“I think the most important step taken was the first step,” Yocum said.
Recently veterans have faced tough financial situations in addition to post traumatic stress disorder and a poor economy, which have all combined to create an environment where the veteran suicide rate is so bad that it has broken records over the past three years, Yocum said.
Yocum is not alone in his adventure. His wife, Mareike, whom he married only 256 miles into the hike last year, and their two dogs are also along for the hike. Yocum said his wife has been instrumental to his success.
“I could not do this hike across America without her,” Yocum said.

While Troy Yocum tries to help, others aren't so concerned. Take the news from New Jersey. Jim Dolan (WABC) reports that the all volunteer Teaneck Armory is being shut down by the National Guard:

The New Jersey National Guard Armory is enormous, but there's apparently not enough room for a tiny pantry that provides free food for service members and families who can't afford to buy it.
The Guard says they don't need it anymore.
"There is a need, when people are calling me in the middle of the night saying, 'Look, I know the pantry is closed, but I need something,' and we're able to fill that need," said Minnie Hiller-Cousins, the pantry manager.

In nearby Pennsylvania, Iraq War veteran Jeff Key takes his play The Eyes of Babylon to the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bristol for performances tonight and tomorrow night (8:00 pm) with a 2:00 pm matinee Saturday and a 3:00 pm matinee Sunday. Ted Otten (Trenton Times) speaks with Key and has more details about the performance.

The following community sites -- plus, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out -- updated last night and this morning:

Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends